Zine Review and Interview: Atalanta and the Footrace by Salt

Atalanta and the Foot Race

Zines come in all different sizes. There are big, chunky anthology zines, slim fanzines, teeny minizines, and emotionally heavy perzines. The contrast between the size of a final publication and the incredible amount of effort put forth to create it really hit me when I received Kim Salt’s Atalanta and the Footrace. Specs from the etsy shop description highlight the feeling behind this zine — “Laser printed on 4.25″ x 5.25″ paper,” and “Materials: paper, ink, love.”

The cover of Atalanta and the Footrace.Atalanta and the Footrace retells the Greek myth of the same name. Each of its eight pages is filled with gorgeous, minute details. Salt tells the story wordlessly, but expertly conveys the emotions of all the characters. I was so enamored with this tiny zine that I had to talk to the artist, and Salt kindly agreed to tell me about her inspirations and creative process.

Atalanta is a really interesting figure. She’s very strong-willed, and she’s a skilled hunter and athlete. What drew you to her story?

I first read about Atalanta in high school when we were reading Bullfinch’s mythology. I think what drew me to her was her sense of independence. She rebuffed her suitors and raced fueled by her own ambition (and arrogance). Not only was she the fastest woman, but the fastest person in the land.

The zine has a really cool, modern feeling. Atalanta’s clothing — the tunic especially — feels sort of gladiatorial, but she runs in high top sneakers and running shorts. Also, the creatures that she’s racing reminded me more of Japanese mythological creatures; the guy with the sullen expression and the big nose made me think of tengu. What inspired you to give the zine such a cool style? Is it influenced by more than Greek mythology?

Although much of the zine is inspired by Greek mythology and art, I was also inspired by Japanese mythological creatures (yokai in particular) when it came to Atalanta’s competitors. In addition, Atalanta’s clothing is largely influenced by Alexander McQueen and street fashion blogs.

The women peeking out at Atalanta.The last page of the zine is very intriguing — all these women are peeking out from behind the pillars of a building, watching Atalanta be crowned the winner. There’s a sense of longing in their faces, like they want to be running their own races, too. What’s going on with those women?

It’s pretty much what you speculated. As I was drawing them, they seemed to be drawing from Atalanta’s victory — fear, courage, astonishment, admiration. I think they realize they can live a life outside of what they are currently living.

For such a short zine, there’s an incredible amount of detail, and the colors are gorgeous and really dynamic. Tell me a bit about your process — just how much work goes into making a mini zine?

I was pretty wasteful with time on this! I worked on it over the course of a month. A project like this usually starts with some vague sketches. One or some of these sketches will plant the seed of an idea in my head and then I’ll start gathering research and references. From here I’ll do thumbnail sketches to lay out the pages, flesh out the sketches at a larger scale with pencil, ink over the pencil, and scan into Photoshop. I color entirely in Photoshop, most times using textures that I’ve made and scanned in separately.

Kim Salt's thumbnail sketches of the zine pages.
Kim Salt’s thumbnail sketches of the zine pages.

On your website, you mention that animated films are what propelled you toward a career in art. What are your favorite animated films?

When I was growing up, my favorite animated films were the Miyazaki films (My Neighbor Totoro and Kiki’s Delivery Service), many of Don Bluth’s films (The Land Before Time, The Secret of Nimh, All Dogs Go to Heaven), not to mention a few Classic Disney films (I loved the backgrounds in Sleeping Beauty). To this day, my favorite animated film is probably Spirited Away.

What projects are you currently — or soon to be — working on that we can look for?

I’m currently working on the art for a vinyl record jacket. This project has been really fun and I hope to post the finals on my website soon. I’ve also been planning a new mini zine that involves witches — probably something that’s overdone, but I’ve always had a fascination for them.

You can read the zine in its entirety on Salt’s website, purchase it at her etsy store, and keep up with what she’s creating by following her on tumblr.

Alenka Figa

Alenka Figa

Alenka Figa is a queer librarian and intense cat mom. She spends her days reading zines and indie comics, and twittering about D&D podcasts at @alenkafiga.